If you’re planning to train for the Swim Serpentine one-mile event in a 25m pool, you’ll need to complete 64 lengths to cover the distance.
There are a variety of training sessions and skills sets for you to try below, but if you’re new to swimming, or are looking to improve, it’s a great idea to find out if there are any adult swimming sessions in your pool, perhaps a triathlon club or ‘Masters’ training session. These sessions are often welcoming and a great way to progress quickly. Often they also have a swimming coach on the pool side to provide set sessions for you, which can help with your technique and fitness.
A swimming session should consist of a Warm up, Main Set, Contrast Set and Warm Down:
Warm up: Gradually warm up your arms and lungs as you increase your pace over some short distances.
Main Set: Typically a target distance broken down into shorter distances with short recovery times to help you work on your pace. For example: the target may be 1,000 metres, so a simple session would be to swim 10 x 100 metres with one-minute rest between each four lengths (in a 25m pool). This way you can swim faster for the duration of the 100 metres than you would be able to over a straight 1,000m swim.
Contrast Set: After a main session the contrast set throws in some drills with perhaps some kick or stroke work.
Warm down: A reverse of the Warm up, reduce your speed and think about technique.
At other times you may go into the pool to complete a long distance swim – for example, to swim one mile non stop and time yourself.
You can try the following sample sets and drill suggestions to train for Swim Serpentine. Sample main sets include:
Big Step Pyramid (1150 metres)
25 metres, (5 sec rest), 50 metres (10 sec rest), 100 metres (15 seconds rest), 200 metres (20 sec rest) 400 metres (30 sec rest), 200 metres (20 seconds rest), 100 metres 15 sec rest, 50 metres (10 sec rest) & 25 metres = 1150m
Build Set (1475 metres)
25 metres (5 sec rest), 50 metres (10 sec rest) 100 metres (15 Sec rest), 150 metres (20 sec rest), 200 metres (25 sec rest), 250 metres (30 sec rest), 300 metres (35 sec rest), 350 metres (40 sec rest), 400 metres (45 sec rest)
5 x 400m (2000 metres)
Made up of: 16 x 25 metres (5 sec rest each length) + 30 seconds end of set
8 x 50 metres (10 sec rest after each 50m) + 30 seconds end of set
4 x 100 metres (15 sec rest after each 100m) + 30 seconds end of set
2 x 200 metres (30 sec rest between 200 m) + 30 sec rest end of set
1 x 400 metres
Sample Contrast Set
8 x 50 metres kick using a kick board
Then 8 x 50 metres (25 metres drill* & 25 metres swim) *A drill is where you practise one part of a stroke.
Sample Basic Drills
Single arm swim. Hold one arm out in front of you and swim only using the other arm. Think about getting a good pull through the water each stroke. Alternate this drill.
Six arm switch. Six single arm strokes on one side, then six on the other. Aim: same as above but use hips when switching from one arm to the other to create a body roll.
Catch up – one hand is always in the water out in front of you. The ‘glide hand’ in the water stays there until the ‘moving hand’ touches the water, then they switch. This is good for lengthening your stroke for long distance swimming. It should be nice and smooth as you always maintain one hand stretch out in front of you.
Chicken wing – as you swim touch your right thumb under your right arm pit and visa versa. This helps create a high elbow when swimming.
Three point touch (good for warm up and warm down). Touch three points on each stroke. 1. Catch up as above. 2. Touch your thigh with your thumb, this should be at the end of your stroke a low as you can on your leg without twisting your body. 3. Under your arm pit. With practise this should be nice and smooth and a good way to get your stroke feeling better after a hard session.
Clenched fist – keep your fist clenched during the whole stroke. Aim: to use your forearm whilst swimming and help appreciate the power your hand creates when pulling through the water. Try and keep this slow and think about keeping a high elbow throughout the stroke.
Kick on side. Left arm in front of you and on your left side, kick for one length. The change sides. Aim: good to balance in water and getting used to rotating onto your side when swimming.